The Geldof Redemption

Remember that kerfuffle about Live Aid funds making their way into rebel hands? Turns out the BBC had no credible evidence behind its allegations, and has only taken about 6 months to admit it. Owen Barder has a detailed discussion here.

Working on the assumption that the BBC was a bit more trustworthy of that, my response to Geldof’s rage might have been a tad bit mocking. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI: I deeply regret that mocking took place.

Update: In the comments section, Nicholas points out that in my previous post on this, several comments indicated that the diversion was accepted wisdom before the BBC story. Can anyone reconcile this? I believe the difference is, as the Barder says, that money sent to rebel areas was likely to have been diverted, but that this was a relatively small percentage. Still, how do these two match up?

“..everybody who’s paid the slightest bit of attention in the last 25 years knows that the Ethiopian government misused the aid funds it received in the mid-1980?s, and that very little of that aid actually helped prevent starvation.” — TIA

“To this day there is no suggestion, let alone evidence, that any of the aid provided in government-controlled Ethiopia, by governments, Band Aid and others, was diverted.” – Owen Barder

Portraying Lagos

A BBC documentary is accused of poverty porn by a Nigerian Nobel laureate:

Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Soyinka said that Welcome to Lagos, the BBC2 observational documentary which follows various people in poor areas of the city, was “the most tendentious and lopsided programme” he had ever seen.

The series of three programmes, which concludes tomorrow, follows groups of people living in three impoverished areas: a rubbish dump, the Lagos lagoon and the city’s beach area. The narration from the black British actor David Harewood overtly praises their resourceful resilience.

Go on.

The 75-year-old [Soyinka], who splits his time between the US and his home outside Lagos, added: “There was no sense of Lagos as what it is – a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation’.

“One could do a similar programme about London in which you go to a poor council estate and speaking of poverty and knifings. Or you could follow a hobo selling iron on the streets of London. But you wouldn’t call it Welcome to London because that would give the viewer the impression that that is all London is about.”

UK residents can watch the show on BBC iPlayer here.